Digital Safety

From watching videos on YouTube to FaceTime chats with relatives, children are online from an early age.

Here are some general tips to help teach kids how to be safe online:

  • Be involved and use computers/tablets/phones/games together.
  • Talk about the Internet and explain it’s a public place, like being at a park, where everyone can see what you’re doing. The same goes for texting.
  • Explain to your kids that they need to get permission from you to share any information online – including photos.
  • Set up parental controls on your devices.
  • Be a good role model when it comes to online/device use.

The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has lots of information about being safe online, including tips specific to kids ages 5 to 7 and 8 to 9 year olds.

Questions about how much screen time – and what types of screen time – are appropriate for your child? A great resource is Ask the Mediatrician. Pediatrician Michael Rich, with Boston Children’s Hospital and The Center on Media and Child Health, answers parents’ questions about media in a simple, understandable way. Check out the Infants & Toddlers, Preschoolers, and School Age Children to see the answers to questions other parents have asked the Mediatrician, such as Is it ok for me to watch TV while I bounce my baby to sleep?, What is the best way to introduce screen media to our three-and-a-half-year-old?, and How can I find quality TV shows for my 7 year old granddaughter?.

Wondering about the content of certain shows or movies? Common Sense Media rates all types of things – video games, apps, music, shows, and more – based on age, positive role models, violence, language, and educational content.

Another great resource for finding age-appropriate shows and movies with strong female characters is A Mighty Girl. There are categories for up to age 2, preschoolers, and ages 6 to 8. The site also has a great list of parenting books dealing with the topic of responsible technology use.